The gardeners here like to show off a bit. We saw this today, and it’s our new favorite.
The gardeners here like to show off a bit. We saw this today, and it’s our new favorite.
We run a hotel. A Gecko Hotel, that is. Yep, a…
Matt and I decided long ago, that a hotel was a much better idea than keeping a lizard as a pet. So we have geckos that check in – and out – on a regular basis. For instance, I found a little guy in our shower the other morning, so Abigail came to catch him and Naomi had the Gecko Hotel all ready for him by the time he was caught. We kept him for observation until the afternoon and then let him go in a more favorable environment.
He was a cute little guy, and friendly – for a gecko.
See ya, little guy! Enjoy the great outdoors!
Several people have asked us over the years for recommendations of books to read about Malawi. Here’s a little sampling of books we recommend to get you thinking about our corner of Africa. Most if not all could be found in your local library, but I’ve linked to each book on Amazon if you want to take a quick look there before you head to the library!
The Daring Heart of David Livingstone :: Was he a missionary, an explorer, or an abolitionist? Yes. And the most famous European in this part of Africa.
African Friends and Money Matters :: This book was key to helping us understand giving and possessions in our first couple years here.
When Helping Hurts :: Sometimes charity can be helpful, sometimes it brings harm to the one receiving it. This book offers some thoughts on helping well and appropriately.
Venture to the Interior :: A 1950 exploration of the Nyika plateau and Mount Mulanje, two of our favorite locations in Malawi
The People of the Mist :: An 1894 adventure novel set in an undefined part of Africa that’s easy to imagine being Malawi: hidden civilizations, giant crocodiles, and daring escapes! Haggard’s Allan Quartermain series inspired countless modern adventure stories and films.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency :: Set in Botswana, but the feel of these books is so very similar to the feel of life in Malawi. I believe there are now 18 books in this series by Alexander McCall Smith.
The Jungle Doctor Animal Stories :: This is a kids’ series, but they’re fantastic fables! They were written by a medical missionary in Tanzania, so many of the expressions and titles used throughout the 6 volumes are familiar to us.
The Bradt Guide to Malawi :: The intro to this travel guide has some great summaries about living in or visiting Malawi. The rest of the book has been super-helpful as we have explored Malawi over the years. We actually own versions 5, 6, and 7 of this book!
And finally, there are several claims that Malawi, Mount Mulanje in particular, inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the setting for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Maybe, but probably not. Tolkien did visit Malawi, but not until after he had written about Middle Earth. However, we do have a Shire River, and I have caught myself more than once thinking “this totally looks like what I imagine Middle Earth would look like!” Abigail is pretty sure she has seen the Misty Mountains! So, for whatever it’s worth, you should read a bit of Tolkien if you want to know what Malawi looks like!
Well, we found 2 leaks and a leaky elbow. “We” hardly includes me, but I took pictures!
The wet patch with a hole in it is the leak that made the tiles huff and puff. When the water is on at the sink, you can see water bubble up in that hole! The leaky elbow is at that sink too: the dark stain running down the wall under the sink.
Leak #2 was much more dramatic! See the crack and hole in that pipe?!? This pipe is the same one from the hall bathroom, just further on down the line – in the middle of the guest bathroom floor. But if you back out from leak #2:
Oh boy do we have a mess! First of all, this big leak is the bad boy who had been causing us trouble for 9+ years! The yellow arrows are pointing to places we have had to replaster the guest room walls (repeatedly) over the years. We’ve even given up painting over the plaster! Now notice the door frame, that is, what is left of the metal door frame. Over the years the damp has rusted the metal, so the rusted parts had to be cut off. We are having some new pieces made and will weld and cement them back in place. New pipe, new floor, new tiles, new door frame, new plaster, and then we might actually repaint those walls finally!
I’m just hoping and praying that the new pipe will slip nicely into the tunnels left by the old pipe and that we don’t discover any more leaks where the pipe goes under the hall bathroom shower or the guest bathroom shower. I’ll let you know if this project gets any bigger!
Hot sauce from India, marketed under a Chinese name, eaten with Mexican food by Americans in Malawi. Geography is irrelevant when it comes to good food.
Anyone who has stayed in our guest room will know that we have a water issue. For years, we assumed the problem was because the builders didn’t put a damp-proof course under the floor. But then about 2 months ago, the floor in our hall bathroom started to make a puffing noise when we stepped on it. Uh-oh. We finally figured it out. We had a leak. There’s a good chance we’ve had a leak or two under the floor for years.
The guest room and hall bathroom share a wall, and since the tiles on the hall bathroom floor were having problems, we started in the hall bathroom. Would we have to take out the guest room or guest bathroom floor too? We hoped for an easy answer, but we weren’t going to hold our breath.
We chipped out the grout and a few tiles came right out.
You’ll notice that this bathroom was the recipient of all the leftover tiles throughout the house, so I am perfectly ok replacing these tiles!!!
This needed more work than we could do, so our friend Richard came to tackle it. And tackle it he did. Tiles, dust, concrete…. the chiseling and hammering finally got to me. It was so loud it hurt my eardrums and I could hear every hammer hit echo in my head. So the girls and I went on a field trip.
We finished birds in science and are on to amphibians. There’s one great place in town that has tadpoles and frogs, the closest thing we have to a botanical gardens: the Four Seasons nursery complex. We went searching for tadpoles.
And we found them!
There were several large tadpoles, just about ready to sprout legs! I circled one in the pic above – it does look like a stick in the picture, but in real life it was definitely a tadpole!
We stalled a little longer at Four Seasons, completing a nature scavenger hunt and buying some great petunias, but eventually it was time to head home and get dinner started.
We came home to no tile in the hall bathroom!
There is a leak in the sink plumbing! And that would explain the damp in the floors and the tile issues we had had. However, it’s not a big enough leak to explain the guest room and guest bathroom wall problems that we’ve had for years. So Richard has also started on the guest bathroom floors.
See how dark the concrete is? And it has a dank moldy smell. Ugh. Tomorrow Richard will be back to continue the search for leak #2. And Rachel will be looking for another great field trip idea…
Four is such a fabulous age! Naomi is full of life, bossiness, sweetness, mischief, compassion, frustration, and fierce love. We are loving these sweet days with her!
She is a devoted fan of her sister. Not only are they friends, Naomi considers herself to be defender, artistic consultant, and executive boss of Abigail.
Naomi is on a campaign to beautify the world around her. This week, to Simba’s silent, patient distress, she insisted on flowers between his toes. What a great dog!
And I think, despite some very brunette beginnings, that her hair is actually turning blond!
For the rest, I’ll let her speak for herself:
Is this not a beautiful piece of chocolate?!? Tastes great too! 😉
Life in Malawi is so normal for me now that I often forget that it’s so different from what my life used to be when we lived in America 10 years ago. Here are a few normal parts of today.
The bugs are different:
And so are the slugs. Well, they might be the same, but I don’t remember seeing slugs in America!
The bike taxis are not only different, they made me learn a new style of driving: the stop-and-go-swerve style.
The overloaded semi-trucks do feel normal now, but they don’t feel “right.” I still feel like they’re going to tip over and squash me whenever they drive by!
I’m pretty sure this one didn’t squash anyone, but it doesn’t raise my confidence level.
And having kids is a new normal for me. I haven’t spent any significant time raising kids in America, but I do know that I love raising kids in Malawi. I’m glad it’s our “normal!”
What “normal” parts of our life would you be interested to see? Let me know in the comments!
Abigail is doing biology for science this year, and she is loving it!
We are currently studying birds, and today’s lesson on nests had a section about weaver birds.
So we decided, since we have weaver birds in Malawi, to go find one of their nests. We found lots, right on our own street!
They’re way up in the palm tree in front our neighbor’s house, so the picture is a little grainy, but you can see the hole/tube on the left side where the birds enter from the bottom.
Then we went home to study a feather. If you have to study the barbs of a feather, why not take a close look at a beautiful guinea hen feather?
We love doing science class in Malawi!